little bunting sighting

little bunting sighting

The discovery of  Walthamstow Wetlands's first ever - and only London's 11th - Little Bunting put the site on the birders' map this month. The little bunting although rare for London is considered to be now a scarce bird in Britain since 1994 (British Birds Rarities Committee classifications). Between 1950 and 1994, 557 individual birds were found in Britain with number of between 10 and 50 being seen in Britain every year since then. None were recorded before 1950.

The little bunting is a bird that breeds in the Taiga forest habitat of  north eastern Europe and northern Asia. It is migratory and usually winters in subtropical Asia but regular numbers of birds turn up in Western Europe every year and presumably move around seeking good food sources. It is a very adaptable bird and feeds like all buntings on seeds.

little bunting sighting at walthamstow wetlands

It is typical for it to mix in with other finch and bunting flocks in winter, where they can be hard to find. The sound of an ‘odd’ call coming from a flock of birds picked up by an experienced birder can sometimes indicate something different may be present and thus a typical way of how they are found. Compared to the reed bunting, little bunting are smaller, generally slightly brighter, coloured with a distinct orangey chestnut cheek patch.  Unlike the reed bunting the sexes are similar in plumage and cannot be reliably distinguished in the field.

Image credit: Jamie Partridge